Toyota’s small-boned, fun-loving 86 sports car took a year off for 2021 and came back to us fully refreshed with a new interior and exterior design, more power and torque, and even a new name: GR86, to reflect the evolution of the car to Toyota’s Gazoo Racing range.
The 2022 Toyota GR86 is available in base and premium models, with the choice of a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic transmission for both versions. Pricing with the $1,025 destination charge included starts at $28,725 for the base GR86 with a manual transmission. The GR86 Premium with a manual shifter has a $31,325 sticker. For both models, an automatic transmission costs $1,500 more.
The GR86 is a 2+2 sports coupe, which means it’s more than a two-seater, but not quite a true four-seater. Someone who could sit comfortably behind the GR86’s driver’s seat would be too small to see out the windows, but the extra space behind the front seats is handy for cargo, giving the GR86 a practical touch beyond its 6.26 cubic foot trunk. .
The GR86 has a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive configuration. For 2022, both models get a new 2.4-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine developing 228 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Compared to the previous engine, these capabilities represent an increase of almost 18% in power and an increase of 11% in torque. It speeds up zero-to-60 mph times by 7.0 to 6.1 seconds for the manual transmission and 8.0 to 6.6 seconds for the automatic.
In the fuel economy competition, the automatic transmission takes the checkered flag. Its EPA ratings are 21 mpg city, 31 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined, while manual transmission numbers are 20/27/22. Premium fuel is required.
Standard features on the base GR86 include 17-inch alloy wheels, Michelin Primacy HP tires, LED headlights, 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster and 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with six speakers, SiriusXM satellite radio and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.
The GR86 Premium has 18-inch wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires. It also adds two more speakers to the audio system, heated Ultrasuede front seats with leather side bolsters and a duckbill rear spoiler.
Every 2022 GR86 comes with a free one-year National Auto Sport Association membership, a free high-performance driving course and discounted entry to NASA-sanctioned events.
I drove a GR86 Premium with an automatic transmission. Sports car enthusiasts may gravitate towards the manual transmission, but there are compelling reasons to choose the automatic. In addition to the better gas mileage already mentioned, a number of safety features that come standard with the automatic are not available for the manual. They include pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and high beam assist. In addition to the Normal drive mode, the automatic offers Sport, Snow and Track settings, while the manual only offers Track mode. And, finally, from an existential standpoint, there’s the reality of increased stop-and-go traffic in the Pacific Northwest, when stick-changing fun turns to bad feng shui at inside the car.
The interior of the GR86 is simple but not dull. At highway speeds, it lets through some road noise, but remains quiet on rough surfaces. The new infotainment system steps forward in sophistication without wandering into Frustrationland.
Theatrical performance is much improved by the new engine, but power is kept within reasonable limits for a car to be driven on guarded public streets where huge amounts of power are largely wasted.
TOYOTA GR86 PREMIUM 2022
Base price including destination fee: $32,825
Price as driven: $32,825
Mary Lowry is a member of the Motor Press Guild and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. She lives in Snohomish County. Vehicles are provided by vehicle manufacturers on a one-week loan for evaluation purposes only. Manufacturers do not control the content of reviews.